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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Eat Like Austen: Parmesan Ice Cream!

Beth has been a constant fixture this AIA-season, and for that (and helping save my sanity, on which I have a tenuous grasp once August rolls around), I thank her! She joins us today for one last post, and she's leaving us with a sweet* treat!
*maybe? Only time will tell!

Ices and ice cream were popular dishes in Georgian, Regency, and Victorian times, made in fantastic molds (or bombes) for dinner parties and available at confectionary shops. They appear to have ranged in consistency from a sorbetto-like fruit-based "ice slushy" to a gelato-like cream-based frozen custard. The surviving recipes for flavors- and there are quite a few- range from sweet to savory, mundane to bizarre. French and Italian confectioners in London helped to popularize ice cream, so I imagine the exotic flavors offered by them increased appeal.

Among flavors of the era? Hazelnut, elderberry, lemon, currant, bergamot, burnt sugar, elderflower, muscadine, lavender, royal (lemon/orange with a bit of spices and a hint of orange flower), rum, rye bread, and Parmesan. Frederick Nutt, a popular London confectioner, published The Complete Confectioner in 1789, which includes 32 different ice cream recipes. And I'll be honest, 30 of them intrigue me enough to try making at least once.

Today, I've decided to try making Parmesan. Nutt's recipe for it looks relatively simple and straightforward, and I'm intrigued by the contrast of a funky savory flavor with the sweetness we'd expect from ice cream. 


  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 16 oz. heavy cream
  • 3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Make a simple syrup. Because this is a Georgian-era recipe, I went for a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. Leftovers can be used in cocktails, hot cocoa, or just about anything else.
    1. Heat 1 cup water over moderate heat- you want it hot but not boiling- and stir in the sugar until dissolved, then let cool.
  2. In a clean pot over low heat, combine 8 oz. of the cooled syrup, the eggs, and the heavy cream.
  3. Stirring constantly, gently bring to a bubble over medium-high heat.
  4. Still stirring, add the cheese. The texture will change immediately to a curds and whey consistency, then to a thicker porridge consistency.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool.
  6. Sieve through a strainer, gently pressing on the curds to expel any liquid into a bowl.
  7. Cover the bowl and set it in the freezer to harden. The curds can be reserved for snacking. The curds, in case you're curious, taste like a sweet, dense quickbread (especially when eaten cold).
What does it taste like?
The ice cream tastes like a subtle Parmesan cheesecake. The Parmesan is noticeable, but it hides behind the sweetness rather than fighting it. Overall, it's very rich and I found it delicious!

About the author of this post: I'm Beth: a bookwyrm, history geek, hobby baker, Austen fan, and collector of pastimes. Henry Tilney and Elizabeth Bennet are my Austen fictional crushes, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about me. I can be found blogging at https://bethwyrm.blogspot.com/ and creating general nonsense at: https://www.instagram.com/goddessbeth/https://www.tiktok.com/@artemishi, and https://twitter.com/ArtemisHi.
Find more posts from Beth here

Jane Austen, Austen in August, blog event, Jane Austen fan fiction, JAFF, The Book Rat, BookRatMisty
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  1. I'm oddly interested in trying this. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I recommend it! It's unusual, to say the least.

  2. Since the Parmesan is mild, I guess I would give it a go. Wow, thanks for the recipe, Beth!

    1. My next attempt will be sharp cheddar, I think (maybe with sauteed apply chunks?). Cheese...go figure!

  3. i looove cheese cake. I will try this recipe. thank you for sharing the recipe


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